Authors: Quinn Zacharias, David Kaplan P.h.D.
Faculty Mentor: David Kaplan P.h.D.
College: Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering
The Florida Everglades is a Wetland of International Significance and World Heritage Site. In the early twentieth century, the Everglades suffered significant decline in environmental health due to massive drainage projects, polluting farming practices and urban population growth. After a century of hydrologic degradation, Phosphorus (P) pollution became a primary challenge. In recent decades, strict water quality regulation has encouraged improved water and nutrient management, reducing P loading from some sources by up to 90%. However, these interventions have yet to consistently meet effluent regulations and Florida’s numeric total phosphorus (TP) criterion. Given the gap between policy expectations and the physical limitations of the system, it is useful to review the motivation for current P and water management approaches, where they have succeeded and failed, and how to adapt in the future. Specifically, this work reviews how and why specific P management goals and strategies were developed in the Everglades, including the scientific background for standards and policy development. Next, the review discusses current and future issues in P management, including ecological tradeoffs, developing technology, stakeholder equities, practical versus ideal P management, and the possibility of balancing multiple hydrologic and water quality goals.